Design by Rexite:
Simple but not banal, Original but not bizarre

April 4, 2016

Every brand has a motto. Be it a salient theme or just the hint of one. A motto embodies the essence of an organization, from its philosophy to its vision and identity.

At Rexite, our motto, like our trademark and every item we produce, embodies our philosophy: simple yet not ordinary, original but not bizarre. We asked Rino Pirovano to dig a little deeper and remember how this philosophy made its appearance at Rexite and if he could remember the exact moment when it happened.
“Of course I do!” he told us. “This philosophy was in all the projects Arch. Raul Barbieri made for Rexite since the very beginning, but we still were not aware of the idea. It all happened during a flight to Lisbon in 1994 where Raul and I had been invited to explain our idea of design to some students of Architecture and Industrial Design. I was sorting the slides I was about to show during my speech when this short phrase suddenly became clear in my mind: “Simple yet not ordinary, original but not bizarre”. The unambiguous theme that had been behind the items Raul designed and Rexite produced was finally clear, since the earliest bookends, Gemini and Duplo (1978), and that would guide me, for the sake of consistency, to choose only designers’ proposals that agreed in principle with our philosophy.”
And what about your most iconic piece? Is there a product that best represents Rexite’s philosophy?
“If I think about the item I could declare to be the icon of Rexite, it is without a doubt the Olivia chair (Barbieri 2004). But of course there are lots of other items, including the Babele desktop series (Barbieri 1980) and Birillo, our umbrella stand with floor ashtray (Giotto Stoppino 1982). There’s also the Contrattempo wall clock (Barbieri 1987), the Eco wastebasket (Barbieri 1993), the Cactus coat stand (Barbieri 1995), the Hannibal tape dispenser (Julian Brown 1998), the Zanzibar stool with adjustable height (Barbieri 2002), the Pop coat stand, and the Taboo wastebasket (both Barbieri 2008).” In fact, these items are all quite simple but none of them is ordinary at all, so they are easy to fit into any environment; and yet there is something original in their shape, in their captivating design that gives them a hint of elegance, without being flashy or kitsch.
How is that possible? How can you distinguish the line between simplicity and banality, between originality and oddity?
“Simplicity is the outcome of research on the essential, and as soon as you find simplicity, it creates instinctive approval and affection. On the other hand, banality doesn’t leave an impression or cause regrets. Originality is a nice particularity that remains impressed in the mind. Oddity instead is like a yell that only generates astonishment and that is its only goal.”
After this explanation, the difference becomes quite clear and the message becomes more understandable than ever. However, it might not be that easy to stick to these concepts for years. Have you ever thought about moving away from your philosophy?
“No, never. Instead, we thought we have to make it even stronger!”